Month: September 2012

Engaging and Caring for the Education Culture by Dr. Jennifer Spencer

Last summer at the ChildLight USA conference, we were very privileged to hear contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura speak.  His topic was “Culture Care.”  The idea was new and fascinating to me then, and over the last few months my mind has been swirling around it.  Soon after that lecture, I decided that I would try begin to engage the mainstream education culture in conversation about reform.  I dusted off my Twitter account (of which, I must confess, I had never really understood the value) and began following the movers and shakers.  This showed some initial promise, as I was actually able to have a brief conversation with Diane Ravitch, who tweeted to me that she had discovered the writings of Charlotte Mason in the British Library and really liked her.  New confidence! I began entering conversations with teachers and representatives from the NEA, who, I found, were mostly very angry. Having spent time in their shoes as a public school teacher, I understood what they were feeling: frustration at the de-professionalization of the careers they …

An Interview About The Beehive by Dr. Carroll Smith

In the summer of 2002, Andra and I and our children made a trip to UK so I could spend time in the Armitt Library and Museum  in Ambleside, England.  We had a lovely time: I spent most of the two weeks inside the Armitt while they enjoyed traveling around the area.  During this visit we stayed in the cottage owned by a family we had rented from on a previous trip.  I learned from the wife that her sister had attended the Beehive,  the practising school for local children that was held on the campus of the House of Education, later called the Charlotte Mason College.  If I have the time-period correct, she attended the school not long after World War II.  I reached out to this individual and she kindly agreed to answer some questions.  The following are the questions and the answers she gave. A point for the reader to bear in mind:  this student attended the Beehive long after Mason had died.  If you have read thoroughly Mason’s works, you will …

Why Homeschool a la Charlotte Mason? by Mary C. Gildersleeve

It was a little over 10 years ago that my life completely changed:   not only had my husband and I decided to homeschool my older two children (who had been in parochial schools), but I had also discovered a way of homeschooling that perfectly fit my family, my faith and my philosophies!  I had discovered Charlotte Mason and her method of education that grew into the unique and successful education pedagogy under the umbrella, Parents’ Union School.  Realizing that parents are in fact the first teachers of all children, she established the Parents National Education Union, writing a monthly newsletter (Parents’ Review) filled with tips and tricks and techniques for best-practice education. Mason, a spinster and self-taught educational theory expert, grew up in late-Victorian England in the Lakes District (1842-1923).  She was an only child whose parents taught her at home until the age of 16 (when her mother died; her father died a year later).  Mason went on to earn a First Class Certificate in teaching and spent her next 10 years teaching.  While …

Weed It and Reap by Nancy Kelly

As recently as nine years ago when my last child was born, a passerby stopped and suggested to my husband, Kent, that he might consider wielding a machete to chop down the weeds taking over the front porch (which had no railing).  Soon after that, a sweet lady from across town stopped by the house and invited me to come and see her flower gardens.  She described in detail what she envisioned I could do with our pathetic front lawn if I was willing to do the research and heavy lifting.  I had never gardened before, but her enthusiasm and vision for what she believed I could do was inspiring.  I was finally at a place in my life where I could consider what she was saying and get to work.  Over the next few years, our family worked hard on making the front yard the refreshing place that it is now.  We enjoy it so much, even though it needs a little weeding and the house will be ready for some new paint soon.  …